The AP Union of Working Journalists and TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu condemned the CID’s crackdown on journalist Ankababu, who reportedly shared a WhatsApp message that cast a bad light on the YSRCP government.
The Andhra Pradesh Union of Working Journalists (APUWJ), along with Telugu Desam Party (TDP) Leader Chandrababu Naidu and Jana Sena Party Leader Pawan Kalyan, have condemned the police crackdown on senior journalist Ankababu. Ankababu, 73, was picked up by Andhra Pradesh Criminal Police at his home in Vijayawada at around 18:30 on Thursday 22 September for allegedly sharing anti-establishment posts on WhatsApp. Ankababu reportedly shared some information about an alleged gold smuggling incident at Gannavaram Airport, which is believed to have cast the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) government in a bad light.
APUWJ members called the arrest of Ankababu “illegal” and protested outside the press club in Vijayawada on Friday. The journalists said that the police broke the rules without serving the Section 41A complaint of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) before the arrest. They questioned how sharing posts from one group to another on WhatsApp is a crime. They expressed their concern about the senior journalist’s health and called on the CID to release him immediately. They announced that other journalists’ associations will also join in solidarity with Ankababu.
In addition to journalists, former Prime Minister and opposition leader Chandrababu Naidu also condemned Ankababu’s arrest. He explained that the journalist’s arrest was illegal and said that if Ankababu had health problems, the police should be held responsible. “It has been learned that Ankababu, 73 years old, is a senior journalist and is a diabetic and BP patient, while his wife also suffers from serious illnesses. In this regard, if any undesirable incident happens in Ankababu, the entire Police Department will be held responsible,” Naidu wrote in a letter to the Director-General of Andhra Pradesh Police. He said the journalist’s arrest was a gross violation of his fundamental rights, freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
The former CM also criticized the way the arrest was made. Plainclothes CID officers reportedly went to the journalist’s home in Vijayawada to arrest him. “None of the 8 people wore a uniform and did not show their ID number or name, and were not even notified under Section 41A,” Naidu pointed out. He accused Prime Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy of trying to stem dissent and asked why the government was afraid of a simple post shared by the journalist. He called for Ankababu’s unconditional release and said the police should ensure that such unlawful arrests are not made in the future. Actor and politician Pawan Kalyan also condemned Ankababu’s arrest and called on media organizations to respond in a democratic manner and protect freedom of expression.